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THE STORMY NORTH                                     33
VI
* Enter the Wali ... Sensation ... flourish ... climax .., anti-
climax !'
This note in my diary, which is an accurate description of the
dramatic sequence of the first few minutes of our arrival, needs a
little explanation.
'Enter the Wali...Sensation3 is a quick way of putting the
fact that the old man bristled with personality to an extent that
was almost frightening.   Not that he was aggressive—far from
it; he was more like a priest than a prince, with his white beard
and his benevolent eyes. It was simply that you felt the eye looked
straight through you, when he shook your hand you winced with
pain.  He was a little man, he was short-sighted, he had no teeth,
and he spoke no English, but he dominated us as effectively as if
he had been Hitler addressing a meeting in the Munich beer hall.
We stood stock still at attention, under the penetrating gaze of
this hypnotic old gentleman.  That is the explanation of the word
'Flourish,' for the band outside had suddenly burst into the
strains of 'God Save The King.*  I had remarked that band, with
awe, as we drove through the palace gates; it was composed of
very old men with fierce military moustaches dyed bright henna.
Their instruments were five bagpipes, one cornet, and a big drum.
With what type of music did these ancients propose to enchant
us ?   We did not have to wait long to find out.   It was 'God
Save The King,9 which they had slightly amended by omitting
half of the fourth and the last bars.
They played it through, and we were about to relax, and sigh,
and assume the insipid smiles which usually accompany the
rendering of the national anthem on unexpected occasions when
suddenly the band was off again and we rapidly resumed our
positions at attention. Once more they omitted half the fourth
and the last bars. A roll of the drum was added at the conclusion
,,.and now, surely we could relax? Polite smiles began to
wreathe our faces.. .but no, here it was again. Really, this was
too much. I was standing on one leg, propped against a chair,
and was doubtful if I should be able to maintain this position
much longer. Perhaps the Wali noticed my predicament, because